Within the grace of saying goodbye.

30 10 2018

I wasn’t necessarily overly “close” to Naomi, but the reality of knowing this authentic soul is that when you knew her, when you spoke with her, when you got to hug her, you felt so enveloped in her love that you honestly felt like her best friend.

She departed from this earthly level of existence (something tells me she’d love this explanation) and left behind a rich tapestry of folks left reeling from this loss. Far be it from me to appropriate the grief from those closest to her, but let me tell you, in the standing room only space of her memorial today, I looked around and witnessed a gamut of human beings whom she touched on many levels.

In any funeral, memorial, or celebration of life there are messages from the loved ones left behind that we hear and bear witness to. And as I get older, these messages resonate more deeply, more richly. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Tell the ones you love that you do love them, deeply. Hug whenever you can. Be kind. Take that time to call someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Reach out and attempt healing if your souls have disconnected, because you guys… life is short, it’s so short and so goddamn precious.

Last night, as I was almost ready to crawl into bed, I got a message from a lifelong friend. In the form of a meme, it summed up the truth of connection. It came at a serendipitous time, as I was grieving for her family and thinking of today’s service. I am so guilty of not reaching out, and staying in my nice comfy hidey-hole of my life that I let opportunities pass me by to even just say hi. We get wrapped up in our crap, time slips by and before you know it, it’s been days/weeks/months/years since we’ve spoken and connected.

But thanks to the silver linings of things like today, we can breathe deep and remember what is so truly important. Not the stresses at work, not the cost of gasoline, not the argument with your partner about laundry.

It’s us. ALL of us. The tapestry of relationships that weave our lives into a rich blanket of connection. It’s dancing and laughter. It’s tears and arguments that resolve into tender forgiveness. It’s moving beyond our attachment from a desire for revenge and retribution, but rather to a humble acceptance of our human fragility and strength.

In her way of being a connection for so many, she has proven today that she has the power to unite. The message I received loud and clear this morning was that we are all here for a short and sweet time and we need to: Breathe. Hug. Love. Laugh. And dance. Don’t forget to dance. And don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. It is when you are that, that you are most human.

I love you all. I really do. And to Naomi, thank you. Thank you for your lessons we all were blessed to receive today and above all thank you for YOU (and those two bald eagles circling above the church after your service. I stood and watched, breathless and aching for your family).




For the love of my lake.

4 06 2014

Have you ever been by a lake and wanted to simply just be by it? Be a part of it? Swim in it, gaze at it, dip your feet into it? Live your life by its simple beauty?

When I was a little girl, my family would sometimes venture from our lakeless home in the East Kootenays to travel north of Kaslo to camp at Schroeder Creek with my grandparents. I recall my nose pressed against the window of the back seat of the Plymouth Fury, goggling at the houses dotted along the North Shore of Nelson: Kim and I would marvel at the lucky unknown souls who got to live by this lake all the time.

We played in her water, found treasures on her shore. (I once found a chunk of weird looking wood that Grandpa said was petrified…. I lost that bit of wonder that weekend and still mourn the loss). We experienced the “black line” of a summer storm in my Grandpa’s boat, rushing back to camp after fishing, the last kilometer or two an exhilaration, wrapped in my life jacket, the bow slamming down after each breach of  the whitecaps of Kootenay Lake…. I would guard the precious cargo of Kokanee, some still gasping for air in the bucket, to my wondrous and morbid eyes; ready to have Grandma prepare for dinner. (I admit I hated eating fish back then, the invisible bones of the fish would fill me with fear, as I took tentative bites, nibbling miniscule morsels in fear of a bone lodging in my esophagus.) We swam and returned lobster-red back in the pre-sunscreen days to run wild among the campers. Rosie would hand out the dredges of her giant buckets of ice cream she sold from the store… I still remember my baby cousin Jami Rose crawling right into that bucket to lick the last bits of goodness, her diapered bottom and dirty feet the only thing we could see sticking out. Dusk on the shores meant fires and marshmallows and canvas-scented infused sleeps.

Who knew that I would one day call this lake home? I could only dream of that gift. But one day I got a call from my Dad telling me that they were moving to Nelson. “What the fuck” I thought to myself, years before WTF was the thing… but I still decided to tag along, thinking it would be temporary stepping stone to my next adventure.

And lo and behold, here I still am, some 23 years later. I still travel along the shores of my lake every day, I see her moods day in and day out. The glint of the winter sun casting steely grey flashes at me, ice gathering along the shore, the spring comes with the rise of the water, hiding my favourite marks along the lake (including a rock formation at Nasookin that I call “Sleeping Man”). The summer months invite me into her waters, cold and icy, refreshing and delicious. Deep dives off the boat, races off the beach with my besties, dangled feet off docks. Evening runs along her shores, rewarded with cooling skinny dips at my favourite rocky beach. Ospreys soar and dive, proving the superiority of their fishing prowess. Seeking high mountain outlooks through hikes and quad rides so we can marvel at the vastness of her size. The moods and ebbs and flows of this lake is much like a wanton woman. Passionate and fierce and full of desire.

I love this lake so much.

This lake holds my soul. She nurtures my heart within her blue depths. She is me, I am her.


3 02 2013

Impromptu drinks last night at a dear friend’s house was just what I needed. We sat around enjoying lychee margaritas (Mmmmm… YUMMY, I’ve never had lychee before….). There were three women there I had never met before but that didn’t stop any of us from jumping into the conversation and sharing like only women can do.

Obviously when mothers get together kids and the epic hilarity that motherhood induces was the main topic. We shared goofy stories around the table: life lessons imbued with laughter.

One of the women had us in tears, sharing a tale of rushing from the bathroom mid-tampon insertion to stop her precocious toddler from falling off the kitchen island. The honesty of the situation only made it funnier. “You see,” she said, giggling, “my younger son can’t talk, so I had to ask my older son what was happening…” She went on to shyly admit he was in speech therapy.

I asked her who she was seeing, telling her that my son once worked with a speech pathologist for years.

Naturally, it was the same therapist.

And of course, as fate works in its most magical and needful way, her son has the same diagnosis as mine.

There we were, two women who had never met, on either side of this mothering spectrum, walking along the exact same path in life, brought together by a mutual friend and drinks. It is always amazing, the way fate dances in our lives.

And so her need to talk about her worry and devotion and struggle with her child came out. She is where I was 12 years ago. Her fears of his uncertain future were as tangible as mine once were.

And I realized that I was there to help her. What a profound moment in my life. I was able to gift this young mother something I wish could have been gifted to me long long ago.

I was able to assure her that her son was going to be okay. I was able to tell her that my son, who once wasn’t able to say anything other than mama and dada now talks my ear off. I was able to comfort her with my own son’s progress that belied my own buried fears of him never being able to speak and be part of any sort of quality life. I too was once terrified that my child would never be able to talk “normally”, that he would skirt the edges of society, that he would be eternally picked on, excluded, that his suffering would be larger than he would ever, ever be able to contend with.

Her eyes filled with tears at my insistent assurance. Yes, it is a tough road to walk, this therapy, sign language and struggle. There will be days that you will feel frustrated, progress is slow and sometimes nonexistent with speech therapy. Yes, the arm chair critics who offer cutting words of negative judgement and unneeded opinions will be maddening at times and yes, deeply hurtful. Tears will need to be shed, prayers offered, hands held, support sought. But through all of this, that light at the end of the tunnel is bright and beckoning. Every word learned, every sign dropped, every little milestone will make that light shine a little bit more until one day you realize you are no longer walking towards it, but rather you are immersed in all of its dazzling glory.